Courier sports staff
The Ottumwa girls basketball team ended its season with a 44-33 loss to Burlington Wednesday in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals of substate.
Bulldog Olivia Roark scored a game-high 14 points that included three 3-pointers. Hayli Beeson finished with six points and kept Ottumwa within striking distance with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Megan Black also added six points to the Bulldogs’ final tally.
Roark was the catalyst for the breadth of Ottumwa’s offense in the first half, as she accounted for 10 of the Bulldogs 14 points. Her scoring output came almost entirely from the three 3-pointers she knocked down in the half.
While the Grayhounds’ leading scorer Kelsi Conner posted six points in the half, Ottumwa’s defense did a terrific job of neutralizing Burlington’s other two top scorers; Courtney Carl and Kya Kimsey, who both failed to score in the half.
“We played outstanding defense,” Ottumwa coach Kevin Patterson said. “Maybe the best defense we have played all year.”
While Ottumwa’s defense held Kimsey, the Grayhounds’ most dangerous 3-point shooter, scoreless for the duration of the game, Carl broke out of her funk and poured in 12 points in the final two quarters.
The Bulldogs only trailed 16-14 at halftime thanks to Roark’s parade of 3-pointers.
“We should have been ahead in the first half,” Patterson said. “We weren’t making crisp passes and we weren’t cutting hard enough to the ball — and they made us pay for that.”
Unfortunately, Ottumwa’s offense got stuck in a rut to start the second half, which allowed the Grayhounds to go on an 8-0 run. Megan Black finally ended the dry spell with a bucket. The basket, however, failed to trigger an offensive resurgence, and by the end of the third Ottumwa trailed Burlington 29-19. Consecutive 3-pointers by Beeson gave Ottumwa a chance to muster a comeback in the fourth, but the Bulldogs couldn’t get over the hump.
Kelsi Conner led Burlington with 14 points. Burlington will go on to face fifth-ranked (Class 5A) Muscatine on the Muskies’ home court Saturday. Ottumwa finishes its season at 4-19 overall and 3-9 in the CIML Metro Conference.
While much of this year’s squad will remain intact next season, the Bulldogs will lose some important contributors. Ottumwa will lose Roark, who was Ottumwa’s leading scorer — and its leader in assists and steals — Strunk, one of the team’s top scorers and steal leaders, and Sammy Garrett, a fierce defender who had to sit out the season with an injury.
Still, Ottumwa returns 12 of the 15 players who dressed varsity this season, many of whom played a pivotal role.
“There will be a lot of competition for spots,” Patterson said. “We have to be a team that handles pressure better and shoots a higher percentage.”
Burlington 44, Ottumwa 33
Ottu 6 8 5 14 — 33
Burl 12 4 13 15 — 44
Burlington (44) — Courtney Carl 12, Marissa McCann 4, Kelsi Conner 14, Megan Mixer 8, Ariana Harris 6. Totals 18-55 FG 4-11 FT 44.
3-point goals — None. Fouled out — None. Total fouls — 17.
Ottumwa (33) — Olivia Roark 14, Megan Black 6, Hayli Beeson 6, Alexis Winn 2, Devin Leffler 2, Carissa Hite 3. Totals 11-38 FG 6-15 FT 33.
3-point goals — 5-15 (Roark 3, Beeson 2). Fouled out — Beeson. Rebounds — 32 (Alexis Winn 10, Black 7). Assists — 6 (Black 3). Steals — 8 (Roark 3). Blocks — 3 (Rachel Zingg, Hite, Black). Total fouls — 14. Turnovers — 34.